This article was originally published on conversation. The publication contributed the article to Space.com’s Voice of the Experts: Editors and Insights.
Elisa Raffaella Ferre (Elisa Raffaella Ferrè), Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway University
For the first time in 11 years, the European Space Agency (Esa) recruited new astronauts. The application will start on March 31, 2021, last for eight weeks, followed by a six-stage selection process to identify the next generation of European astronauts.
By 2030, humans will once again walk on the surface of the moon, head to Mars and may enjoy suborbital holidays. The new space age will bring great benefits to all of us. When we find a sustainable lifestyle outside the earth, it will promote technological development, it will create exciting employment opportunities, and it will generate new socio-economic opportunities.
Recruiting new astronauts is the first step in a new era of human space exploration. Many people may dream of becoming an astronaut since childhood, but what do you need?
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Becoming an astronaut is not easy, nor easy. Esa is looking for candidates with different profiles and backgrounds. However, there are some minimum requirements.
Candidates should have scientific knowledge and a university degree in physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, engineering or medicine. They must have proven operational and leadership skills, and preferably have flight experience. However, there are many other skills that can be truly selected, such as wilderness experience, teamwork and adaptability, self-control and language skills.
This time, Esa disclosed the standards for applicants̵
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Advances in technology not only enable us to transport humans to space, but also to live in space.
However, compared with the challenges currently faced by astronauts, these longer space missions will pose greater challenges to human health and performance. Unprecedented distance, duration, isolation, and increasingly autonomous operation will be combined with another type of gravity (such as weightlessness or partial gravity on the moon and Mars) that is exposed to the earth for a long time.
Space is an unfavorable environment for human health, extreme temperatures, atmospheric pressure, microgravity, solar and galactic cosmic radiation, and lack of high-speed micrometeorites.
Radiation is considered one of the most dangerous space hazards. On Earth, the planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere protect us from most of the particles that make up the space radiation environment. Even brief exposure to space radiation can be extremely dangerous to health. Studies have shown that radiation increases the risk of cancer, damages the central nervous system, changes cognitive function, reduces motor control and affects behavior.
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The transition from the gravity of the earth to another is also more difficult than it sounds. Exposure to non-ground gravity can cause tremendous changes in human physiological structure and function, including changes in the cardiovascular, neurological and musculoskeletal systems.
For example, when entering microgravity, the pressure on body tissues is eliminated, causing fluid to migrate from the legs to the upper body and head – you may have noticed the astronaut’s puffy face. As a result, vision becomes the worst due to pressure changes in the brain. It has been noted that due to lack of use of muscles, muscles will contract and absorb excess tissue, while bones will change, and bones will lose approximately 15% of their structural density.
The most critical problem facing human beings in long-term spaceflight is cognitive, psychological and social psychological challenges. Under the action of microgravity, it is not easy to live with others for a long time in a confined space away from home.
It is very difficult for the human brain to deal with microgravity. In the first few days of weightlessness, 40% to 60% of astronauts will experience a disease called space adaptation disease. This can cause symptoms of dizziness, dizziness, headache, sweating, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. The consequences range from mild discomfort to cognitive impairment. Therefore, during the first few days of the space mission, any outdoor activities or space walks are prohibited.
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Psychological changes have also been observed among astronauts. Some people have reduced communication skills, less interaction with other crew members, and a tendency to focus more on themselves. In an extremely harsh and life-threatening environment, isolation and confinement can easily touch down on the engine, fatigue and social tensions.
This is not surprising, then, it is the cognitive and psychological needs of the space agency when choosing new astronauts. Candidates should show good reasoning skills, memory and concentration, the ability to work with others, low aggression and stable emotions in order to cope with possible stress and emergency situations during space flight.
Prolonged space flight poses many challenges for crew members working in the space environment. Years of physical and psychological training, as well as in-flight medical and operational support, will equip astronauts with excellent tools to deal with the pressures of the space environment. This is not an easy task, but it is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
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